Business

Is your business fit for the future?

Traditional CR models are no longer enough in the workplace, because today's working millennials seek an authentic brand purpose
Lisa McIlvenna

MILLENNIALS want to see business have purpose. According to research by communications agency, FleishmanHillard Fishburn, 93 per cent of millennials want to buy from companies that have purpose, sustainability and environmental awareness built into their ethos.

This is echoed in the findings of Deloitte's 2018 Millennials Survey which canvassed the opinions of 10,455 millennials across 36 countries. It showed that younger workers are uneasy about the future, pessimistic about political progress, and are increasingly concerned about societal issues and environmental sustainability.

The annual survey showed a dramatic drop in millennials opinions of business, with only 48 per cent of respondents believing that businesses behave ethically, compared to 65 per cent the previous year.

This lack of trust is translating into impactful decisions, with over half (56 per cent) of millennials excluding companies which are not operating sustainably from their shopping lists. A further 49 per cent will refuse to work for companies that do not align with their personal ethics.

With three-quarters of the UK working population expected to be made up of millennials by 2025, these changing attitudes will have a significant impact on the way businesses communicate, hire and, ultimately, operate. Millennials want to see companies have an authentic, positive purpose at their core.

Traditional corporate responsibility models are increasingly no longer seen as enough. While they are a step in the right direction, the workforce and customers of the future want more, expecting to see sustainability and responsibility built into the core of the business.

Considering the recent 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that 60 per cent of respondents expect CEOs to drive change, rather than wait for legislators to enforce it, there is clearly an opportunity, and an expectation, for business leaders to drive meaningful change in society.

With the absence of political leadership in Northern Ireland, there is an impetus and an opportunity for businesses to step forward and provide a positive lead for society.

It's what society increasingly wants, and the results of the surveys discussed earlier indicate that those businesses which will thrive in the future will be those that serve society today. To gain the loyalty and trust of the next generation, businesses need strong leadership and purpose embedded within their very core.

Have you considered what purpose lies at the heart of your organisation? What are you doing to ensure you appeal to the customers and workforce of the future?

At Business in the Community, we champion responsible business and campaign to encourage businesses, large and small, to put responsibility at the heart of their business.

We want to ensure that purpose and sustainability are firmly on the agenda within the board room. We work with our members to ensure responsible business is more than just a CR plan – it's a way of doing business.

If you'd like to find out more about how business can be sustainable and fit for the future, come along to the Responsible Business Summit on Wednesday 10 October. For more information, visit www.RBSummitNI.com

:: Dr Lisa McIlvenna is deputy managing director of Business in the Community NI

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